Summer Writing Course | Writing Children's Books

WRIT S4313
3 points
Instructor: Peter Catalanotto
For course schedule and location, please visit the School of Professional Studies summer site here.
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The hallmark of a successful children’s book is a strong story that captivates children and resonates with adults. In this course, students will learn how to distinguish between the crafting of a story and the mere describing of events.  They will gain a thorough understanding of the creative process from inspiration to publishing house submission.

Students with all levels of writing experience—from novice to published—will learn how to mine their lives and imaginations for ideas that can be developed into children’s stories. Through the study of beloved childhood books, we will identify the characteristics of a timeless story; one that endures generation after generation. Over the six-week course, each student will develop a children’s book manuscript. They will learn the importance of reading their stories aloud, which helps both reader and listener develop a better ear for a story’s pace, cadence and structure. This course emphasizes the power of brevity in children’s book writing and will cover the format of picture books, early readers and emerging readers.

Writing for children has become incredibly popular in the past two decades and many publishing houses, having been inundated with manuscripts, have ceased to accept unsolicited submissions. This course will disclose other avenues to getting your manuscript into the hands of agents and editors.

Each student will need a writer’s notebook or journal, writing implements and a children’s book that he or she loved as a child—the physical book or just the memory.
Tuition & Fees
Current Columbia students can review tuition and fees here.

Visiting students can review tuition and fees here.

Materials Fee: $20
For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at, or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Writing Departmental Representative Dorothea Lasky at

About the Instructor
Peter Catalanotto
Peter Catalanotto graduated with a BFA from Pratt Institute. He has written and/or illustrated forty-six books for children, including Ivan the Terrier, Matthew A.B.C., Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-it-All, Monkey & Robot and Emily’s Art, of which School Library Journal  wrote in a starred review, "this heartfelt book is a masterpiece." Peter and his book, The Painter, were featured on PBS’ Storytime and in 2008, First Lady Laura Bush commissioned him to illustrate the White House holiday brochure. In 2004, Drexel University recognized Peter for his outstanding contribution to children’s literature. He has presented his creative process at conferences, colleges and schools in over 40 states and, since 2013, teaches Columbia University's first summer course for children's book writing. Peter also led workshops in Rwanda for those who wanted to write their experience of the genocide and revolution. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.